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Pivot and Change... News from Hazel & Rye

Running a business...

Running a local small business is both an act of passion and an exercise in hard work and endless hours.  All the local small businesses have owners that are burning everything they have and own to keep their vision and “baby” alive and functioning.  Keep the doors open, the ovens on, prices reasonable, and customers happy, all one day at a time.  It is sometimes an impossible way of life that stretches and strains every nerve and fiber of being for the owners every second of every day.  There are no vacations from this life.

Recently in the area many businesses like our have been facing extreme challenges and are forced to close their doors and shut down.  The press has not been good to them which is terrible.  Sometimes money is not there even while things look great.  While the general public looks at businesses for their products, services, and brand image, the true and only viable component that makes a business actually work is the results of the profit and loss bottom line from the accounting system.  Warren Buffett has as quote that reads “accounting is the language of business” which is the most accurate way of stating that if the numbers are not working, nothing else is. 

No matter how many Facebook likes and fans there are, or how cool the shop is, or the vibe, look, feel, of the website, if you have an app, or how many awards you receive.  The numbers don’t lie.  Making this part of the business work is the most difficult part of running the business and all decisions made are based on the results of the numbers and the language of accounting.

Our business, our vision

Our business, Hazel & Rye Artisan Baking Company, is no different from any other the other local businesses here in the greater Stark County area.  When there are issues with the magic numbers, the business must either suffer and fail, or pivot and continue.  We are a pivot and continue business. 

We believe in our product and mission.  We believe that this area needs this type of business and the customer demand is there in the long run.  European inspired, locally crafted is our mission statement and driving mantra.  This hasn’t changed even though we have had to pivot, change, and adjust.  We have had to survive without a baking kitchen, the ability to display more products, and the draw to afford evening and Saturday hours.

We have recently made another pivot to the business to ensure sustainability and continuing to keep the essence of the business intact to grow eventually back to the baking company we desire to be.  This pivot also goes hand in hand with some opportunities Chef Emily has been approached with on a much larger scope and level than I can offer her with this company. 

The Pivot

Emily will be leaving the day to day operations of the store and baking business.  Emily is still one of the owners of the company but will reduce her activities to embrace the new opportunities for her that are opening for her.  Coming onboard to fill in the gap is Emily’s twin sister Elizabeth who has been for much of the company Chef Emily’s main assistant and baker.  Elizabeth will work with myself on developing the ability to provide fresh baked goods at the scale possible with the facilities of our downtown location.  Elizabeth has a natural talent and has been studying under Emily and has been instrumental in the evolution of our cookies and breads.  Elizabeth will be working onsite each day with our current store lead Lorrie Leggett to provide the best in customer service, quality of product, and a growing café and bakery menu that will grow from our core values and recipes.   

Prior to this recent pivot we had been in negotiations and planning to build a full-service kitchen behind our café in the bank building.  This pivot is putting those plans on hold and focusing on a more realistic goal of working to create baked goods at the scale of the location.  Of course, we will honor our time-tested recipes and vision statement with every crafted product.

In my eyes and heart as a small business owner

In my eyes and heart as a small business owner, I believe we must meet the customers’ demands and provide goods and services which are in demand at an unparalleled level of quality.  Secondly I believe we must be a responsible company which can keep up with vendors, taxes, payroll, and other financial demands.  The last point is that we must be profitable and growing so we can invest back into the business and provide a repayment to the countless hours put in by Emily and myself.  We must do these things first.

No matter how many Facebook likes we have, contests we win, awards we receive, and good vibes in the community we generate, it always comes down the language of business, the bottom line.  We as a business are working to keep that essence that is what we are.  We want to be a bakery like Tartine Bakery in San Francisco or the other great big city bakeries.  We are an urban European style bakery at heart and want to be that bakery in Stark County.  We want to also extend ourselves to a great café menu and urban eatery uniquely different and uniquely good.   

The last thing

The last thing to share is that we are pivoting to grow, not to shrink.  We are changing to survive the bottom line, and not to cheapen and shorten the quality.  Please bear with us as we change, as we build the foundation, as we pivot for the future.  Chef Emily is always a call, message, or Facebook message away, and she is my right-hand partner in the business.  The vision will not change.  We are Hazel & Rye Artisan Baking Company.